Skip Navigation

Go
Species Search:
{pagetitle}

The latest in news, stories and just plain fun from the world of eNature.com.

Recent Entries

Monthly Archives

Can You Tell A Snood From A Wattle?  Let’s Talk Turkey About Our Favorite Bird-2
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014 by eNature
A Male Wild Turkey showing wattles, snood and beard
A Male Wild Turkey showing wattles, snood and beard
© http://www.naturespicsonline.com/

It’s almost Thanksgiving and many of us are thinking about our annual feast and the turkey that’s often at the center of it.

But how much do you know about the creature that many folks think is our REAL national bird?

Turkeys are interesting birds— they’re large, colorful and hard to miss when they’re in a demonstrative mood.  Many researchers have devoted their entire career to studying them and their complex social structure.

A Bird For All Americans
As recently as a generation ago, folks rarely encountered Wild Turkeys.  Hunting pressure had eliminated them from much of their original range.  But extensive reintroduction efforts brought the turkey back from the brink and just about every state in the continental US now has populations of wild turkeys, some in the tens of thousands.  You can see from the range map to right how widely distributed turkey’s now are.

Snoods, Wattles and Beards
So what exactly is a turkey’s snood?  Male, or tom, turkeys have a number of features that experts believe are intended to attract female turkeys (hens).  These include the familiar fleshy red wattles on its neck and throat as well as a fleshy mass over their beak known as a snood.  As turkeys are polygamous and happy to mate with as many hens as they can attract, a seems reasonable to conclude that a more spectacular wattle and snood will result in more breeding success.

A tom’s plumage follows the same principles.  Bright colors and unique features rule the day.  His feathers have areas of green, copper, bronze, red, purple, and gold iridescence.  Most males also have a beard; in reality a group of specialized feathers growing from the center of his breast.  The photo to the above right clearly shows many of the tom’s irresistable (to hens at least) qualities.

Strutting Their Stuff
Males attract hens by a behavior known as “strutting”, in which they display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings.  Gobbling, drumming or booming and spitting as signs of social dominance are also techniques toms use to attract females. 

Sounds a bit like highschoolers at a Friday night football game!

Overcoming Adversity
Wildlife managers estimate that the entire population of Wild Turkeys in the United States was as low as 30,000 in the early 20th century. By the 1930s,they were almost totally extirpated from Canada and found only in remote pockets within the US.  Populations have rebounded spectacularly since programs across the country were put in place to protect and encourage the breeding of surviving wild populations.  The rebound has reached the point where hunting has been legalized in in the lower 48 states and current estimates place the entire Wild Turkey population at over 7 million.

Wild Turkey or Bald Eagle?
It’s not your bartender taking your order, but rather an interesting bit of American history.  In the early days of the republic, Benjamin Franklin strongly objected to the choice of the Bald Eagle as our national symbol, preferring the Wild Turkey. 

Franklin thought the Bald Eagle’s habit of stealing prey caught by other birds, particularly ospreys, an innaproppriate quality and wrote,  “For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America”.

We tend to agree with Ben— the turkey, a uniquely North American bird, is an American original and worthy of our respect.

.

What makes a Turkey's meat white or dark? »

The National Wild Turkey Federation has lots more info »

(0) CommentsPermalink

Comments

A Couple Of Comments About Leaving Comments: Only your name will appear with your comment and, since we now moderate comments to stop spammers, your comment will appear once it's approved by the blog moderator.


Name (required):

Email (required):

Please enter the word you see below:


Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments

By submitting content, I acknowledge I have read and agree to eNature’s Terms of Use

eNature Web Site Terms of Use
1. Messages and other content posted on the eNature web site express the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of eNature. Discussions on the eNature web site about other organizations, events, or resources and links to other organizations’ web sites do not constitute an endorsement by eNature.

2. By using the eNature web site, you agree not to post any message or other content that is obscene, vulgar, slanderous, threatening, or that violates any laws. Personal attacks, hateful, and racially or ethnically derogatory comments will not be tolerated.

3. You agree not to post, reproduce, distribute or exploit any information on the eNature web site for advertising or commercial purposes.

4. Content on the eNature web site may include intellectual property that is protected under copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Such laws generally prohibit the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of protected materials. By posting messages or other content, you represent and warrant that (a) you have the legal right to reproduce and distribute such content and (b) eNature may reproduce, adapt, perform, display, and distribute such content in any form, worldwide and in perpetuity. eNature reserves the right to delete, move or edit any messages or other content for any reason, in eNature’s sole discretion.

5. eNature does not warrant that any information on the eNature web site is complete or accurate, and will not be liable any direct, indirect, incidental, punitive or consequential damages that may result from the use or inability to use the eNature web site, including the use of or reliance on any information made available on the web site.

6. The eNature reserves the right to prohibit access by any user who violates these Terms of Use, and to make changes to these Terms of Use at any time in its sole discretion.


Advanced Search
Subscribe to newsletters

 

 

© 2008 eNature.com